You know that old fantasy: You buy a house on some property, and there, at the bottom of the hill is an ancient, rusting barn. You move in, unpack your stuff, get settled, but then the snow starts to fly, and you promise yourself you’ll clean out that nasty old barn with spring’s first thaw. Then you find a supercar under a tarp in there, and you wish you wouldn’t have waited so long.
That’s not quite what happened with the recent barn find of a 1972 Lancia Stratos, but we can all dream.
In the mid-70s, the World Rally Championship still stuck to fairly strict rules of homologation, the practice of only racing cars that were also available, in certain degrees of similarity, to those on the road. 1974 saw the requirement of manufacturers to produce 500 examples of whatever car they planned to race. This was to keep too much money from being injected into the sport. Manufacturers were encouraged to take their existing cars and modify them slightly for racing.
That’s not how Italian firm Lancia interpreted the rule. They turned it on its head, building a race car, then building 500 detuned copies for the road. And it worked out rather well for them.
They won the WRC championship from 1974-1976 in their creation, the Stratos.
It was not yet the era of all-wheel-drive, so the Stratos sent all of its 280 hp to the rear wheels. It came from a mid-mounted 2.4 liter V6 built for the Ferrari Dino. One version, the Group 5 classification, was turbocharged to a mental 560 hp.
Sadly, the Stratos was never sold in America, but that didn’t stop a British national, working in the States in 1982, from importing an example here for personal use. He used it for some time as a daily driver around the streets of San Francisco. In 1998, the Stratos was locked away in storage, and though it wasn’t likely forgotten, it sat lonely until this year with just over 31,000 miles on the clock. Now it’s going up for auction, and Bonhams’ is predicting to sell it for as much as $300,000 this weekend at Pebble Beach.
It’s not running, but the body is in fine condition, if a little dusty. Here’s hoping this beauty will find an owner to restore it to fighting trim. And here’s hoping he or she drives it once in a while, rather than just putting it back into storage.
We all have that dream about barn finds of rare cars. For example, what if you found a wacky but rare Stout Scarab in an old quansat hut? Only a handful were made, and a few are unaccounted for. Those last two words are enchanting. Who knows where they could be?
What are your dream barn finds? If you stumble across one, we recommend making an offer on the barn and its contents as one lot.
Photo Credit Bonhams
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.